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The Night That Everything Changed (Part one)

‘Can’t we just stay in bed a little longer? I don’t want to go to work today,’ Taruk moaned, snuggling deeper under the covers and wrapping his arms more tightly around his love.

‘Are you crazy? Our boss will kill us. You know I have to get that deal signed tomorrow,’ Kritika said, widening her eyes. She looked at the time and immediately charged out of bed. ‘Come on, let’s go! We have to get ready!’

‘All you think about is work, targets, presentations, our boss… that’s it, right? Why do you want to work like a donkey? Relax on some days. Unwind a little. Come back to bed. Let’s cuddle up and call in sick and maybe binge-watch Netflix. We can order takeout. Just imagine staying in bed all day and doing nothing!’

‘Taruk. I’m serious. Let’s go,’ she said with a straight face, standing at the foot of the bed with her hands on her hips. 

‘I’m also serious,’ Taruk grinned impishly and stayed put. 

‘You have three missed calls from your mother. Please call her back. The last thing I want is for her to call me to find out where you are. It’s really embarrassing. I know she doesn’t know about us, but I’m sure she has a hunch. She isn’t stupid. You practically spend most of your time here in my apartment. I’m going to hit the shower, and then I’m off to work.’

‘Again, with the work!’ He rolled his eyes. 

‘Yes. Work. Unlike you, I have bills to pay! You come from a very wealthy family. You don’t have to pay for rent, food, transportation… nothing!’ Kritika called out and headed to the bathroom. 

Like every other morning, Kritika blasted music and took a nice hot shower. It was the best way to kick-start her day. It not only got her moving but also uplifted her mood. Soon, she stepped out of the bathroom. Surprisingly, she found the blankets folded and a note that read, ‘left for home. See you at work.’

Kritika chuckled. She dressed and then prepared a standard breakfast - tea, scrambled eggs, and toast. She was on the road in no time. 

When she arrived at work, there was no sign of Taruk. She assumed he had called in sick and didn’t have time to call him. She was too busy with her regular day at work. By the end of the day, an announcement had been made that there would be an office Christmas party this weekend. Her colleagues were thrilled and had already started to discuss their perfect outfits. 

Later that evening, Kritika reached home and found Taruk sitting outside her apartment with his head hanging low. 

‘Hey? What are you doing here?’ She asked, sounding surprised. ‘And why didn’t you come to work?’

‘I…I went to meet Anu,’ he blurted. 

‘Who’s Anu?’ Kritika frowned.


‘Anuuu… the one who works in my department. The new girl. Remember?’

‘Oh… why?’ She asked, shuffling through the things in her bag, hunting for her house keys. 

‘Come, let’s go inside, and I’ll tell you the whole story.’

‘So you’ve not gone home today either? Your mother is going to be so pissed off,’ she said, unlocking the front door and stepping inside. 

‘I did. And I was on my way to work when Anu called, and she was sobbing over the phone.’

Kritika placed her bag on the chair and gave her man a perplexed look. She blinked a few times, expecting him to tell the truth. 

‘I couldn’t understand anything she was saying over the phone. Then she asked if I could go and meet her at the cafe near her house. So I did. We chatted. She vented. She’s just been dumped. And she’s having a really hard time.’

‘But why did she call you, of all people?’ Kritika asked, sounding concerned.

‘Because she’s new and didn’t know what to say at work.’


Taruk was silent.

‘So she also took the entire day off? Did you spend your entire day with her?’

‘No… she reached work before the second half.’

‘And you?’ She raised her eyebrow.

‘I went home. Mom needed to do some shopping. She wanted to buy some gifts for Christmas,’ Taruk explained. 

‘Hmmm…’ she slowly nodded.

Just then, the doorbell rang. ‘Who could that be?’ Kritika wondered. ‘Don’t tell me you’ve invited Anu home.’

‘No, no! I’ve ordered us dinner,’ Taruk mumbled. ‘Hey! Why do you think I would call her at home?’

‘How the hell do I know? Who do you think you are? Cupid? Don Juan?’ She said, waving her hands in the air. ‘You’re one weird boy! You know you don’t always have to be the fixer! You don’t have to always take on everybody else’s problems.’

‘Why are you getting so upset… come… let’s eat. I’m hungry.’

‘You’re always hungry!’ She grumbled, rolling her eyes. 

‘Oh, my sweet one. You know me so well…’ Taruk admitted sheepishly, unpacking the takeaway. 

‘Well… we have been together for the past two years,’ she said, heading back from the kitchen with two plates and some cutlery. 

‘You know, seeing Anu in the state she is in made me realize how lucky I am to have you. You make everything so easy and simple. It’s so straightforward and clear. You know you mean the world to me. I’m absolutely unspeakably grateful to have met you in the cafeteria on your first day at work.’

A big smile appeared on Kritika’s pretty face. 

‘Never leave me, okay? I don’t know what I would do without you,’ he said lovingly. 

‘Where am I going? Come on… get over your insecurities, and let’s eat. I thought you were hungry.’

The two sat together and enjoyed their dinner. As they ate, they talked about their days, laughing and joking. The tension from earlier disappeared, replaced by a sense of contentment and love. They knew they were lucky to have found each other and deeply cherished their relationship.

After they finished their meal, Taruk headed home. The last thing he wanted to deal with was an angry, inquisitive mother. Kritika saw him off and locked the front door. She had a quick chat with her family back in Chandigarh. She then tucked into bed and randomly scrolled through the photos she and Taruk had clicked over the past two years. She zoomed into Taruk’s face and looked deeply into his dark black eyes. She swiped down to his smile. His dimple on his left cheek. She zoomed out and swiped through more happy, crazy times. Surprisingly, she could feel her stomach churn in an unwelcome way. She had that unwanted feeling that something wasn’t right. She recalled his loving words over dinner. She reflected on her churning stomach and tried to reassure herself that everything was as it should be. 

‘Taruk wouldn’t do anything to hurt me,’ she worried. ‘But I was once the new girl at the office, too, and that’s when we became friends. Is this the same for Anu? What if this is how he is? What if this is what he does? What if he is always drawn to the new and vulnerable girl?’

Just then, Kritika received a ‘Good Night, Love You’ text from Taruk. 

‘I’m such an idiot,’ she mumbled and replied, conveying her love.

‘I think I need to get some sleep…’ she thought. ‘Life is good with Taruk,’ she reassured herself. ‘Our relationship is working. Anu is just a tiny blip. But even in the big picture, it wouldn’t be Anu’s fault. I guess she’s just too vulnerable right now. But why should Taruk even interfere? It’s none of his business. I think I should have a talk with him about this and tell him what I’m feeling. Or maybe I should just stay out of it because I’m overthinking this. I really should get some sleep. I have to get that deal signed tomorrow.’

Over the next few days, Kritika spent longer hours at the office. Taruk’s sleepovers were minimal. She even brought work home, giving the two very little time for each other. Her coffee breaks at the office were spent in front of her laptop. Now and then, she would wander to Taruk’s department and find him absconding. There would be no sign of Anu either. ‘I’m out for a meeting’ was his standard reply. Kritika felt he was slipping away. She felt incomplete and so bogged down. There had not been one decent conversation between the two. And soon, the distance began to eat her up.

On Friday evening, Kritika reached home early. She had a long week and wanted to take it easy. She was looking forward to a quiet, peaceful weekend and, of course, the office party. She spent her evening munching on popcorn and watching the movie - Pretty Woman.

Before tucking into bed, she called Taruk. He had been out the entire evening with his extended family. They had a quick chat, and before cutting the call, Taruk mentioned that he had bumped into Anu at the restaurant. Kritika felt her stomach jump and her mind go numb.

‘You two have been spending a lot of time together,’ she said cautiously. 

‘No… not really,’ he replied casually. ‘I have to go. I’ll see you at the party tomorrow.’

‘Wait… aren’t we going together?’ She asked. 

‘Umm… I’ll be running a little late. I have to drop Chachaji at the airport, and we can meet there.’

The following evening, Kritika slipped into a maroon high-neck woolen dress. She wore black stockings and brown boots. Her hair fell neatly over her shoulders. Her only makeup was a little lip balm and the kohl that she always wore on her big, beautiful brown eyes. She arrived at the party with her friends, eager to meet her beloved at the venue. 

Unfortunately, Taruk was running late. The party started warming up with blaring music, peppy dance numbers, and lots of fancy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Kritika stood at the bar waiting for her drink when her boss approached her. 

‘You really deserve an evening of fun,’ he smiled. ‘You’ve done really well this month. I’m more proud of you and the work you’ve done!’

Kritika beamed. ‘I hope you remember I’ll be on leave next week.’

‘Of course. Enjoy your time with your family back home in Chandigarh.’

Finally, Taruk arrived at the party. His eyes wandered briefly, and he spotted Kritika in the corner of the pub. He smiled, walked up, embraced her, and gently kissed her forehead. 

‘I’ve been waiting for you… let’s hit the floor,’ she said coquettishly.

‘He can join us in a few minutes,’ her friends sang in unison before Taruk could reply. They dragged Kritika to the dance floor, looking forward to having the best time of their lives. 

As the party continued, Taruk was all over the place. He was a social butterfly mingling with his office colleagues. He danced for a bit and soon blended in with the gossipy crowd. Kritika kept a watchful eye on him until he had disappeared for a worrying amount of time. 

Kritika wandered around the pub, asking if any of his friends had seen him. Everyone gave her the same answer. ‘He was here just a minute ago.’ She tried calling him, but his phone was unreachable. Finally, she headed toward the pub’s smoking area, where she saw Taruk standing close to Anu. Too close. Way too close. She froze at the door, not having the guts to step outside into the area. 

It was pretty clear that the two were having an intimate conversation. Suddenly, her heart was in her mouth, and her stomach was knotting. She saw Taruk take Anu’s petite, pretty face in his hands and speak to her with love and affection. He held her tenderly as she rested her head on his chest. Anu looked up to him and went on her toes, giving Taruk a gentle kiss. His hands slid slowly down her back, and as he looked up, he saw Kritika standing at a distance.  

Their eyes met; his were full of guilt, and hers were filled with rage, betrayal, and heartbreak. 

‘You’re going to rot in hell, you bastard!’ she thought to herself, feeling that painful lump in her throat. ‘I’m out of here!’ She turned on her heel and headed quickly to the exit. She made her way to the main gate, her eyes filled with tears of anger and rage. 

With trembling fingers, she called for an Uber and waited alone on the cold street. She crossed her arms over her chest to ease her shivering. She pictured that intimate moment with her lover, his new woman. Her tears burst unchecked down her cheeks and splashed onto her dress.


‘Wait, Kritika,’ Taruk called out as he rushed toward her. ‘Please!’

Just then, the cab arrived. She opened the door and sat in the backseat. Taruk managed to reach out and hold the door open. 

‘At least hear me out,’ he huffed worriedly. 

‘You’re new darling Anu must be waiting for you,’ Kritika said with brutal sarcasm. ‘To hell with you and to hell with her!’ 

‘Please, baby! Wait a minute. Let’s talk it out,’ he begged.

‘We’re over, Taruk… And don’t call me baby again. Ever!’ She spat at him and slammed the door. 

‘Wait… It’s… it’s not what you think,’ Taruk said as he saw the cab drive off.


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